It seems that I’ve passed on a genetic predisposition to shove beads in one’s nose. Don’t ask why. I can’t explain it.
A few weeks ago, I had one of those full circle moments as a parent. At bedtime, I tucked in my three-year-old son, and very plainly told him to stay put until morning. About ten minutes later, he crept out of his bedroom and into the hall.
“What are you doing?” I whispered in my accusing, angry voice.
He timidly whispered back, “I want you to get these out of my nose.” And in the darkened hallway, I saw his little nostrils flared wide with a colorful pony bead wedged in each nostril.
In my head I screamed, but on the outside I was all calm business. I placed my fingers high on the outside of his nose and made a swiping pass down, and the bead on the right side popped out. The bead on the left side remained. It was a toughie, but at least it was visible.
We went into the bathroom for more light, and with a little finagling, I hooked my fingernail onto the bead and pulled it out. Then I asked how many beads he put in there. “Two.” I arched his head back like a Pez dispenser to point his nostrils into the light to confirm his statement. It checked out. He was in the clear.
After that we had a little conversation. I played the responsible, concerned parent. I painted a very grim picture of the dangers of shoving beads in one’s nose. Such dangers included (but were not limited to) trips to the emergency room, large probes held by doctors, suffocation, and death.
I used my low, quiet, deadly serious voice. He listened with big blue eyes staring at me from behind his curly eye lashes. I believe the message sunk in, but time will tell.
And then I sent him back to bed, airways unobstructed.
All in all, I can’t say I’m surprised. This little boy’s eternal quest is to figure out how to make round pegs fit in square holes. He is his engineer father’s son, the little boy who rigs up three makeshift tow straps to pull all varieties of things behind his trike (including his sister on her ride-on car).
He’s forever creating contraptions. One of my favorites is a “fishing pole” he procured from a Lincoln log, a length of ribbon, a full roll of Scotch tape, and a bolt snap hook.
So, a few beads in the nose? Not so very surprising. He saw two cylindrical beads, and his sleepy builder’s mind created the connection that his nostrils looked roughly the same size. Apparently, the first bead went in with success. Having a second nostril available, he saw his project through to completion.
Oh yes, I’m also not surprised because, well, I did the same thing as a preschooler. Except I ONLY put beads in one nostril.
And that little serious speech I gave about the dangers of beads in noses? Stolen straight from my mother.
In my head, however, we had an entirely different sort of conversation. That’s the place where the responsible parent gets to play out all of the less responsible reactions to predicaments like beads in the nose at bedtime.
“I know! You just see those colorful things and want to shove them in your nose?! I don’t know why either, but I get it. I did the exact same thing when I was your age! Ha ha ha! Oh wow, I was in big trouble. You’ll outgrow it soon. I did.”
All of those over-used parenting phrases also popped into my head, “Wait until you have kids,” “What goes around comes around,” “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” You get the picture.
Circle back about thirty years, and I clearly remember sitting on the pink carpet of my bedroom, playing with the mustard-colored Tupperware container full of beads. I believe I had the light off because I wasn’t supposed to have those beads in my room in the first place. It was during my crafting era of making everyone “beautiful” plastic bead necklaces strung on dental floss.
I sifted the beads through my fingers. And as I felt them, I just had the irresistible urge to put them in my nose. The first one I put in came out easily, but the next time (or two) I wasn’t as lucky. It was not my greatest preschool experiment.
Mom was not pleased one bit to find beads wedged in my nose. I heard a lecture about dangers including (but not limited to) trips to the emergency room, large probes held by doctors, suffocation, and death.
The lecture worked. I resisted poking things in my nose from then on. I do recall a time or two when I held a bead or a pea up to my nostril, um, just checking for size. But fearing the anger of my mom and an ER trip, my self-control won out.
So, there you have it. I was one of those kids that wanted to shove things in my nose. And I still turned into a fairly respectable adult. I never developed a snorting habit with strong substances or anything sinister like that. Nope, I just resisted the inexplicable urge, and then soon enough, the urge faded away. Hopefully the lecture does the trick for my three-year-old, too.
Someday when he gets a little older, big enough to fully appreciate the irony and humor of it all, I’ll tell him how I, too, once shoved beads in my nose.
You are just like your mom! Someday, you’ll probably fish beads out of your own child’s nose, too.
Then, give your child Grandma’s lecture.